Fred VanVleet is the ultimate underdog career story in the NBA. After going undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors took a flier on the 6'1 point guard. After a few years, VanVleet started making a name for himself as a solid point guard. His ascent came at a head in the 2019 playoffs, where his performance for the Raptors helped the franchise claim it's first championship.
However, according to the Raptors guard himself, he wouldn't have made it in the NBA without one player opening the doors. Fred VanVleet, while speaking to reporters, credited Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry (the all-time 3PT leader!) for his rise in the NBA. (via Toronto Sun)
“He’s made it possible for me to be in the NBA first and foremost, with the three-point shot being where it is, I’m not sure my career would look the same if I wasn’t allowed to take the threes that I’m allowed to take and work on my game that way, to be able to expand my game,”
Everyone and their mothers knows how much Curry's meteoric rise revolutionized the league. The three-point shot, once considered to be an optional piece for a title team, has now become the most important shot for teams to make. VanVleet is an awesome shooter (career 38.4% from three), but it's likely he would just be a fringe shooter if he didn't have the green light with the Raptors like he did now.
That green light came from Curry and the Warriors showing everyone the way of the three-pointer. It's nice to see the Raptors point guard give credit to Stephen Curry for paving the way for him.